Workplace Rights

Weekly (8/2/10)

Topic of the Week  Work Strong--The Value of a 90-Day Review for New Employees

· DON'T call it probation.

· DO assess performance.

· DO meet with the employee.

· DO set new goals.

The first 90 days are a crucial time for a new employee, yet most companies fail to take advantage of it. Which reminds me of the latest business Internet buzz word, "freemium." This is when a basic service is offered for free with an additional charge for enhanced features. This became very popular with the advent of the iTunes store, when companies would give away basic apps but charge for extras. Heck, even Microsoft and the New York Times started doing it.

Unfortunately new employees aren't a get-something-for-nothing opportunity. It's important to see them as requiring an essential investment right from day one. To get people firing on all cylinders it takes commitment from the company and a plan to engage them. I've listed three Do's and a Don't below for managing those first 90 days to get the most bang for any company's bucks. For more, check out the newly revised version of the WSJ best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide" by Rosner and Halcrow (McGraw Hill, 2010).

DON'T call it probation. We've all experienced a probationary period on a new job. But that phrase is so five minutes ago. Today the commonly used phrase, meaning what the lawyers tell us to say, is introductory period. Many people feel that probation somehow infers that employment could be guaranteed. Since most of us are "at-will" employees, meaning we serve at the will of our employer, this isn't the case.

DO assess performance. If performance is a problem, better to act sooner rather than later. Don't feel you have to wait because it's uncomfortable, because things will work themselves out or that it just isn't that big a deal. The longer that an employee hangs on, the tougher that it will be to cut them loose later down the road. I know that Donald Trump just says "Your fired" and the person immediately leaves the building, but in most companies it's a lot more complicated than that.

DO meet with the employee. You should have regular check-in sessions with the new employee during those all-important first ninety days on the job. If they're doing well, give them a hearty atta-boy or atta-girl. If they're not getting the job done adequately, you should try additional training, corrective action or consider termination. Again, the employee is new, it's the company's job to bring them up to speed.

DO set new goals. Even new employees need to have new goals established for them on a regular basis. This will keep them learning, growing and producing. I'm not suggesting that you treat them like a plate at an all-you-can-eat restaurant, just piling the work on them higher and higher. Not at all. But most people take pride in their work, so by paying attention to their needs and concerns, you'll create workers who are more engaged.

Follow these tips and your employees won't come in for free, but they will provide your company a huge premium as long as they work for you.

About The Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via


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"The achievement of one goal should be starting point of another. "

–Alexander Graham Bell

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